After the release of their 1992 album, Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell
, Social Distortion took a four year break due to some lineup changes among other issues. But in 1996, Social D proved they were back with this album, White Light White Heat White Trash
(parody/tribute to The Velvet Underground's White Light/White Heat
). With this album, Social Distortion goes back to their hard rock and punk roots while maintaining little to no rockabilly sound that they have been known for with their previous three records (Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell
, Social Distortion
, Prison Bound
). With this album, Social D delivers plenty of hard rock guitar riffs, quick drumming, and the aggressive vocals from front man Mike Ness who's vocals sound noticeably raspier on this album. While this record features some abrasive hard rock songs (like Don't Drag Me Down
), it also has some slower, emotional songs such as I Was Wrong
. The only major lineup change is the departure of long time drummer Chris Reece. Deen Castronovo recorded drums for thw album although classic punk drummer Chuck Biscuits (DOA, Danzig, Circle Jerks) is listed in the notes and played with the band on tours following the album.
White Light White Heat White Trash
opens up a great rock song that would set the heavy tone of the album. Dear Lover
has some very loud, pounding drums throughout the whole song, making you feel Chuck's presence, and features a nice little guitar solo from Denis Danell. Needless to say, it is a very nice way to open up a consistent record and a look in to the new path of the band. Following the opener is a by far one of the best songs on the album and one of the bands best period. Don't Drag Me Down
is another hard rock song that opens with a very quick drumbeat, followed by a heavy bass line and then after a guitar slide, the signature blasting riff comes in, which would be the songs key. Mike delivers one of his best vocal performances here, especially in the chorus as he sings with intensity and attitude. Track three Untitled
, brings the tempo down a notch. This song keeps a steady beat, and has some great lyrics on this song, and while they might seem cliche to some, they are actually meaningful and personal experiences from Mike such as when he sings: "And friends they come and friends they go/but you were always by my side"
. This is also the longest track on the record, almost reaching the five minute mark.
Up next is the single from the album and the song that received the most air play. I Was Wrong
, after some feedback, starts with blaring guitar very similar to the previous songs. While this song"s instruments are heavy, Mike's vocals are somewhat softer as he sings about personal experiences growing up and all the things he's done wrong. Overall a very enjoyable track and a standout one. After two slower songs, Through These Eyes
brings the pace up with this fast punk rock song. Through These Eyes is a very solid track with again Mike singing from personal experiences at which he does well. Track number six and half way through WLWHWT, Down On The World
is another fast punk rock track. Mike's vocals sound deeper and raspier on this track but he still sings the track well. Not much else to say about this track other than that is a great song and keeps the consistency of this album going. Track number seven is another one of my favorites on here, When Angels Sing
. As far as the lyrics go, this song is very personal as Mike songs about all of his close friends that have died. Judging by the lyrical content, you would probably think it would be very soft, and while it is compared to most of the album, it is still heavy but emotional. The chorus is one of the best on the album, and this song is a definite standout. After that is yet another fast punk rock track. Gotta Know The Rules
doesn't standout to me as oppose to the rest of the album but is a very solid track and keeps the album flowing. It also has one of the best solos on the album.
Crown of Thorns
opens up with a very catchy riff, and then the drums and bass kick in. In the verses Mike sings over the same riff from the intro which works very well. This song is a bit slower than the previous two but just as good. Mike uses many voice ranges during this song. Track ten is Pleasure Seeker
. This song again opens with one of, if not the hardest riff on the album. This also seems the darkest on the album, especially in the chorus. Overall it a very solid track and one that stands out. We now get to the last two songs of WLWHWT. Track eleven is Down Here (With The Rest of Us)
. This song is probably the slowest paced on the album, but still good. The drumming stands out the most on this track. With Social Distortion having the Rolling Stones as an influence, they decided to cover their song Under My Thumb
and what was included as a bonus track. It was originally covered by the band in their earliest days (circa 1981) and was included on their compilation of b-side and rarities of old tracks called Mainliner: Wreckage From The Past
released one year earlier than this. It was re-recorded for this album. The song, simply put is amazing. After a somewhat misleading softer intro, it makes a rapid change of pace into one the of the fastest and agressive songs Social Distortion has ever done, and one of their best as well. Under My Thumb ends the record on an excellent hard rock note, that dominated the majority of the album.
Overall, this album is solid right from the opening track right to the end and not a filler track present. It's nice to see Social D return to their hard rock and punk roots like their debut Mommy's Little Monster
. It is yet another album to add to Social D's short but impressive discography. I highly recommend this album if you are a fan of hard rock or punk, or if you have any Social Distortion albums but not this one. This album doesn't focus as much on blues or rockabilly that much, which may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what you prefer. This record shows why Mike Ness is one of the greatest song writers in recent times as all of his lyrics are meaningful and believable. This is was an impressive comeback record for Social D and proved that they were not done.
Don't Drag Me Down
I Was Wrong
Under My Thumb
Through These Eyes
When The Angles Sing